Anyone who knows me knows I absolutely cannot stand people that bully others. Without a question, I have no respect for anyone that picks on weaker or smaller people, from kids at school to adults at work. I have a special disdain for school age bullies for very good reason. Not only because I have a 10 year old son, but because bullying can lead to several short term issues such as sleep disturbances, poor school performance and symptoms of depression just to name a few. If left unchecked prolonged bullying can lead to chronic depression, suicide attempts, poor general health and substance abuse among other things. Being a kid/teenager is hard enough without the added drama brought on by being the victim of bullying.
What’s the schools answer to the bullying epidemic? Zero tolerance fighting policies. Schools expect people being bullied to run and look for a teacher, which isn’t always possible, or stand there and take a beating. If the victim fights back they can also be suspended for simply defending themselves. That’s the definition of zero fighting policy.
According to the American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force “Zero tolerance has not been shown to improve school climate or school safety. Its application in suspension and expulsion has not proven an effective means of improving student behavior. … In so doing, zero tolerance policies have created unintended consequences for students, families, and communities.” But schools cling to the broken policy. Anti-Bullying Public Service Announcements were pretty popular, handing out tee shirts with anti bullying slogans on them or rubber bracelets with the same slogans. All of that is ineffective, “Violent incidents in schools increased 113 percent during the past school year, a new study finds. …The study also found an increase in threats of violence in schools across the country, with nearly 1,300 more threats made during the current school year compared with last year, Aug 14, 2018” according to USA Today. Not much on 2019 so far. This leaves students who are being victimized by bully’s two choices, run and HOPE you can find a teacher or stand there and take a beating.
If I walk outside and someone runs up to me and pushes me, I have the God given right to defend myself. So why don’t students? Why do we expect them to just stand there and hope a teacher comes by and helps them? Schools allow students the ability to choose what bathroom to use without a second thought, but don’t allow them the ability to choose if and when they need to defend themselves? That makes absolutely no sense at all to me. I’ve told both my children to NEVER start a fight or pick on anyone or the school would be the least of their worries. I’ve also told them if someone is physically bullying them do what is necessary to protect themselves and not to worry about getting “in trouble” over it. Notice, I said if they were “physically” being bullied, not verbally being bullied. All children need to learn how to deal with name calling, they are going to run into jerks all their lives, they need to learn how to deal with those people. Bottom line is, being called a name doesn’t give someone the right to get physical with anyone.
Parents should let their children know that they are allowed to defend themselves. When it’s possible, enroll your children in some type of self-defense class, it builds self-esteem and self-control. There are several reasonably priced ones in the Frederick County area. Don’t let the schools teach your children that standing up for yourself is wrong or that being the victim is the right thing. Keep in mind I’m not advocating schools turn into a Mixed Martial Arts pay per view, but standing up for yourself shouldn’t be frowned upon. Schools should help students try to be self-aware and independent, that’s is part of a well-rounded education. Someone in a position of authority won’t always be there when you need them. It’s your responsibility to protect yourself.